My name is Marshay Patterson. On March 13th, 2015 I stood up & made an oath to turn my life around. It's a commitment & opportunity I don't take for granted, one I keep fresh in my heart as I am on this journey of finding my purpose. We all have a story & while it may be a troubling one for many of us I am so thankful for those it leads to HOPE for Prisoners.
I'm 28 years old & grew up in Southern California. I am the third oldest of seven children. My biological mother struggled with drug addiction & as a result lost custody of all of her children. My twin brother & I were adopted by my mother Francis, who now resides in Memphis Tennessee & my father Clarence, who passed away 4 years ago this past week. My parents were able to adopt four of the seven of us.
I must admit I lived a very sheltered lifestyle. I had amazing parents & guidance & we wanted for nothing. I excelled in academics, volunteered a lot, earned an Associate's Degree in criminal justice & aside from speeding tickets here & there, managed to stay out of trouble.
My reason for telling you this is because trouble can find anyone ...
The thing that makes the difference in our lives are our choices. Whether we make good or bad choices, there will always be a consequence. I'm sure you've heard many times before that your associations determine your destination. That is a big part of my story & how I ended up at HOPE for Prisoners.
In college I met a man who I allowed to become a big influence in my life. We dated for 6 years & 3 years into our relationship he experienced a few challenges & made a decision to go back to the streets & hustle. As much as I cared for him, there was a part of me that knew I should have parted ways with him because we no longer shared the same values. My choice to stay in that relationship led me down a path of prostitution, domestic violence, homelessness, jail & three separate arrests. I accepted the dysfunction of the relationship I was in, it became my norm & I was introduced to many things I never imagined I would have been involved in.
I wanted out, but I had isolated myself from friends & family & was solely dependent on my boyfriend at the time. I had trouble finding work in California so it was my boyfriend's decision to move to Vegas. I eventually separated myself from him & moved to a transitional house where I became House Manager. I was having trouble finding work so Clark County social services told me to go to HOPE for Prisoners because they help felons find jobs. That's all they told me & boy were they wrong ...
HOPE for Prisoners does so much more!
By the time I came to the orientation I was desperate for help. I had made up in my mind that I needed help or I was going to have to go back to the unhealthy situation. Jon Ponder (HOPE for Prisoners' Founder & CEO) called me the Friday before class to let me know I made it & I could not stop crying tears of joy because this was the lifeline I needed!
The workshop took me from a place of hopelessness & ignited a fire in me that I refuse to let burn out. When I came to HOPE I was depressed, suffering from anxiety & PTSD. But Jon made it clear where I came from didn't matter & helped me visualize my future. Miss Barbara Lupe helped me build up my self-esteem & Greg Ketter taught me the value of hard work & perseverance. On graduation day I shared my "Vivid Vision" & I am proud to say that with the help of my HOPE family I have accomplished most of my goals!
I have my own place, I work at McDonald's & I am currently training for shift manager, I am the Vice President of the Leadership Academy run by Chris Petko, where he has been working on helping me become a more effective leader, teaching me the importance of identifying my core values & developing my leadership vision. I have participated in the women's group, book clubs, the financial workshop & a few volunteer opportunities.
I enjoy being with my HOPE family & for the first time in a long time, I feel at peace & I am truly happy! ... I'm thankful for the family I have at HOPE & for having positive people to share my life with ... THANK YOU!
~ Lavish Three ~